The Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) and Sterliteâ€™s parent company, Vedanta Limited have been given permission to extract hydrocarbon (oil and natural gas) in four locations of Tamil Nadu. On Monday, Union Petroleum & Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan signed an agreement, allowing the extraction.
While the government has allocated three off shore locations in Nagapattinam to Vedanta for retrieving hydrocarbon, ONGC has been given permission to do the same in Chidambaram. As per the current agreement, 55 places in India have been allocated for extracting hydrocarbon.
In May 2017, it was reported that despite several protests, ONGC would continue the hydrocarbon extraction project in Neduvasal and Karaikal.
At the time, the ONGC claimed that in Ariyalur and other sites, â€śthe drill site location is selected always away from the habitation, highways, railway lines, schools, hospitals, etc. keeping the minimum distance as per Oil Mines Regulationsâ€ť. In other districts, ONGC stated that it would commence drilling in the blocks already allocated to it.
At the time, nine wells had been proposed in Nagapattinam, six in Ariyalur, five in Thanjavur and one in Tiruvarur. However, ONGC was reportedly planning to skip public hearings, knowing very well that many were opposed to the project.
Environmentalists, however, vehemently opposed the project and disagreed with these terms as well. Members from the environmental organisation Poovulagin Nanbargal had stated that community members should be kept in the loop about projects planned in their localities, "Individuals and communities cannot be taken for granted. They must have a say in projects that are planned in their vicinity.â€ť
While ONGC alleged that drilling of the proposed wells would not violate any environmental restrictions, several activists, including Chief Coordinator of Anti-Methane Project Federation T Jayaraman, stated otherwise.
â€śWith drought taking a toll on farmers, allowing more oil exploration activities would only result in desertification of the region,â€ť Jayaraman earlier told the New Indian Express.